On a hot sweltering afternoon, excited Mumbaikars swarmed the Sewri Jetty to witness one of nature’s most beautiful phenomena. Around 20,000 flamingos, have arrived in the city, creating a wave of pink against a the vast expanse of green mangroves. Thousands of lesser and greater flamingos have migrated from Rann of Kutch for their annual sojourn.
To celebrate this and to create awareness for the need for their conservation, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) in association with Mangrove and Marine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation; and supported by the Mumbai Port Trust, had recently organised their annual Flamingo Festival.
Film producer Manish Hariprasad, who inaugurated the fest, said, “We are among the few megacities who can boast of a humongous jungle and a variety of bird species. We must consider ourselves lucky and strive to conserve this beauty.” Although the flamboyance of flamingos stole the show, wader birds like Black-headed Ibis, Brown-headed Gull, Marsh Sandpiper, Marsh Harrier, Little Egret and Median Egret were also seen.
Amazed at the view of the birds, Anand Kulkarni, a 20-year-old college student who saw the flamingos for the first time, says, “We don’t get to see much of nature in a city, but seeing these birds in their natural state gives me a sense of hope that not all is lost.” The mudflats of Sewri are a rich feeding ground for flamingos and other birds who forage for food. Thought the refineries and industries on the periphery of the mudflats are a constant threat to these birds. Isaac Kehimkar, Deputy Director of BNHS reasons that if flamingos continue to flock here, despite the line of industries, we can be assured that all is well. He opines, “Marshes of Sewri are a precious gift to Mumbaikars that needs to be protected. We have still not lost all of nature, we can redeem what’s left”.
The fest paid extra attention to children and young adults to create awareness about the biodiversity of the mudflats, so that they can grow up to become environmentally responsible citizens. Spotting scopes were available to help the young audience attendees get a clear view of the birds. Activities like book reading sessions, face painting and quiz were conducted for them. 10-year-old Archit Mahadik, says, “Flamingos are so beautiful and I got to learn so much about them. I think we must love all birds and save them.” Popular author Deepak Dalal, who through his books, aim to make children aware of birds, conducted a book reading session with the kids. He says, “We’ve got around 1,200 species of birds and a lot of children today are unaware of this fact. They need to know about our birds so that they look out for them and in turn save nature.”